Saurabh Chaudhary finished seventh in the men's 10m air pistol final at the Tokyo Olympics on Saturday.
Contesting his maiden Olympics, Chaudhary had earlier topped the qualification event with a total of 586, including a perfect 100 in the fourth series. Abhishek Verma, the other Indian in the field, failed to make the final after finishing 17th with 575.
In the eight-man final, Chaudhary was in eighth place after the first few shots but moved up to seventh after his first 10 shots yielded a total of 96.8. In the elimination rounds, Chaudhary moved up to sixth place after shooting a 10.2, while South Korea's Mose Kim could only manage 8.8.
In the next round of elimination against China's Zhang Bowen, Chaudhary shot 10.6, while Zhang shot 10.7. In the crucial next shot, Chaudhary slipped up with 9.6 and Zhang shot 10.2, eliminating Chaudhary.
Chaudhary's seventh place finish is the best by an Indian in this event. The previous best was Jitu Rai's eighth-place finish in the Rio Olympics in 2016.
Iran's Javad Foroughi, who entered the Games in red-hot form having won both the World Cups in 2021, was crowned the new Olympic champion, finishing with a score of 244.8 in the 24-shot final.
Serbian Damir Mikec realized his dream of an Olympic medal in his fourth Games, winning silver with 237.9. Beijing Olympic Games champion Pang Wei of China won bronze with a tally of 217.6.
Earlier in qualification, Chaudhary began in excellent fashion, shooting 10 out of 10 before slipping in the second part of the first series. The 19-year-old multiple World Cup gold-medallist then rallied from the 19th place, in a field of 36, to inch closer to the top eight qualifying spots.
Once inside the safe zone, Chaudhary scored a perfect 100 after back-to-back 98s, making his way up to the top of the highly competitive field comprising multiple world and Olympic champions in Chinese shooters Pang Wei, Zhang Bowen and Serbian Damir Mikec. Korean legend and four-time Olympic champion Jin Jin Jongoh could not make the final.
Even as Chaudhary went about his task in his typical composed manner, his roommate and friend Verma battled hard at the Akasa Shooting Range. Verma started with a 94 and and after falling behind, got his act together and continued his march up the leaderboard until two 8s and as many 9s in the last series did him in.
Women's 10m air rifle
Earlier on Saturday, first-timer Elavenil Valarivan and Apurvi Chandela failed to qualify for the final of the women's 10m air rifle event.
Making her Olympic debut, Valarivan finished 16th after shooting 626.5 in her 60 shots, consisting of six series of 10 shots each, while the more experienced Chandela ended up in 36th place after aggregating 621.9 at the Asaka Shooting Range.
China's Qian Wang won the ongoing Games' first gold medal after she shot an Olympic record score of 251.8 in the eight-woman finals.
The Russian Olympic Committee's Anastasiia Galashina claimed the silver with 251.1, while Switzerland's Nina Christen took the bronze with 230.6.
The Indians began fairly well, and although Chandela slipped after that, the 21-year-old Valarivan tried to remain in the contest with a fine performance in the third series, including shooting a perfect 10.9 to end the series. However, Valarivan could not maintain the same form and a couple of 9s down the crucial final stretch, in the fifth and sixth series, pushed her further down.
Chandela, who had finished 34th at the 2016 Rio Olympics, slid down the field after shooting a couple of 9s in her second series. Although she consistently shot an average of around 10.4 afterwards, she had a lot of ground to cover in order to claw her way back up a tight, competitive field.